Thursday, February 15, 2018

How to organize your laundry space {spring cleaning series}

Welcome back to this organizing, spring cleaning series!  If you haven't read the kick off post, "How to organize anything," you'll want to flip backward and read that {here} first. That post is key, as it highlights the tools and steps needed to organize any space, room or mess. I will refer back to that process as previously detailed, in all the posts still to come in this series. 

I'm excited to share this tiny room with you.  I've seen some amazing, jaw-dropping mud/laundry rooms with perfect, matching bin systems, gorgeous statement tile on the floor and amazing lighting...  But, then, there is (my) real life, where I'm combining high function needs, with small space living.  The good news, with a little bit of planning and organization, it can totally be done!  For years, we talked about transforming this little space with some built in cupboards, etc.  Real life budgeting pushed me to get a little creative and you can imagine my joy, when measuring tape in hand, I discovered that I had a little storage cupboard that was the perfect fit.  But let me back up.  

When we moved into this little spec. house, there was a side by side washer and dryer in this space, and one of those awful wire racks above it, wasting gobs of potential storage space.  Nearly a decade of living here and making that work finally ended when the machines gave their last.  We purchased front-loading machines and bought a stacking kit (about $20).  Once they were stacked up high, we were able to fit an existing cabinet beside them, in this room.  (I found it at an antique shop years ago, for $100.) I can't recommend a stacking kit highly enough.  It maximizes your laundry space in wild and exciting ways.

(Okay, yes... that might be dramatic.) 

The lighting is awful in here, but I think we can all overlook it for the sake of checking out how it's organized and how it functions.  Let me tell you.  It functions beautifully!  We come inside from the garage, (where I park my car) and coats and shoes get deposited on hooks and a floor tray.  On the back of the garage entry door, I have an iron/ironing board combo hanger. (You can find a similar one here.) (I'm big on having a pretty ironing board. I loathe ironing but a pretty board makes me a little more likely to enjoy it... pretty+function, like I always say!) (You can find really cute, inexpensive ironing board covers at places like Marshalls and Target by the way- or check out this cute paisley one.) Behind the door that opens into our kitchen, I store all of our brooms, dustpans and such, because they are ugly and awkward.  I love and use a rack (like this one) that you simply push the handles into.  In the cupboard, we store everything our home basically requires to function.

So essentially this room is a; laundry facility, utility closet, mud room combo, with storage for all household items, medicine and randomly needed things.

I want to take you on a small tour...


I have labeled the photo so you can see what we keep in these drawers and such.  I thought you'd enjoy seeing how much I've packed into this small space and this cupboard.  I've also used a bookshelf in this room, which worked well, but this works even better because of the drawer space. It is the most organized spot, and helps me run this household with ease.


(I'm a big fan of using pretty bowls and trays for actual storage.) The lazy susan is practical and handy and I can't recommend getting your hands on several of those, enough!

The first aid box holds all of our medicines and such.  It was an old radio parts box that I painted- though I'm considering switching that out for a basket, so it's easier to slide out, grab what's needed and slide it back. (A lidded box is a pain and now I've got older kids so I don't need to be as careful  when it comes to medicines.)  The bathroom cleaning supplies are contained in a seventy nine cent bucket from Ikea and the slim line garbage catches lint from the dryer.



This is the view as you walk in from the garage.  We created a coat hanger by installing Ikea hooks onto a painted board.  It's a great coat catchall.  (I keep this sweet sign hung above it for the off seasons.) Brooms and dustpans are stored behind this door.

A recap on how we make this multi-purpose room organization work: 
*Laundry supplies are kept on a lazy susan like this one
*Cleaning supplies are kept next to the cleaning rags.  Bathroom cleaning supplies are kept in this inexpensive bucket from Ikea that keeps them tidy and contained.  
*A small, slim line garbage can is kept handy for emptying the lint tray
*Medicine and first aid supplies are kept in an old radio parts box that I painted for this purpose. 
*Junk drawer items, household tools, extension cords, lightbulbs, etc. are within easy reach. 
*I don't go crazy purchasing too many cleaning supplies, and I've been in homes where they had so many they couldn't possibly use them all up.  We don't keep supplies in every room or space- just here which is handy because you always know where to go for any kind of mess.
*Coats get hung on cute metal Ikea hooks that we mounted to a board.
*Shoes get dumped onto this tray, and then often moved into the hallway shoe storage or bedroom closets.

A Note on how we do laundry in our home: (because having a system for that keeps this room organized.)
*Everyone in our home keeps a dirty clothes hamper (a simple, white plastic basket such as this one) in their closets.
*Everyone does their own laundry when it's full, and removes the clean items back into the basket, transporting it from the laundry room into their own room, where it's folded (presumably) and put away.  Sometimes someone needs to combine with another to create a full load but not normally.  This is a system we have been using since the kids were in late elementary school and they both do a great job with their own laundry.  When they run out of clothes, they make time to run a load. (wink) So I don't have to monitor it at all. (This system keeps this tiny room clutter free, and teaches my kids responsibility for their own items.) This is a system that works so well for us.
*We lay cleaning rags and wet dishtowels flat over the washer door to dry in between loads and toss them into whatever load gets washed first.

I hope this was helpful as you consider organizing in a tight space that needs to live large!  As always, hit me with questions and I'll get back to you! 
XOXO, 
Sasha 




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How to organize your kitchen logically {spring cleaning series}


Welcome back to this organizing, spring cleaning series! Today I'm posting on the big one... kitchens.  This is a project that can take an entire day if you are organizing the whole room... but the nice part, is that you can always begin in a couple of drawers and work them in small segments of time, little by little until you've touched each drawer and cupboard.  Don't be put off by the size of this job, it's well worth it.  The organization in a kitchen directs the organization of a home in my opinion so it's a good one to tackle or touch up.

If you haven't read the kick off post, "How to organize anything," you'll want to flip backward and read that {here} first. That post is key, as it highlights the practical how-to steps needed to organize any space, room or mess. It's the method I use with every organizing job I do in my home, big or small and how I work, one drawer or one cupboard at a time.  

I didn't originally plan to share this space, as I've shared parts of my kitchen in past posts, but I've gotten quite a few questions about some specific things so I decided to tackle it. I walked into my kitchen this morning and just began photographing it, as it was. I didn't empty the dishwasher and tweak it to make it all pretty because I wanted you to see it, of-the-moment, living in a home with teenagers who (sometimes) put things away willy-nilly, and such...  You're seeing the real deal in here, which I hope helps you with your own.  As a general rule, we do tend to be a family of neat-knicks so most of the time it looks pretty tidy and similar to this.

There are always gorgeous solutions when you read magazines.  My organizing is always on a budget which means it's not always magazine picture perfect,  but it generally functions like a dream, which is the entire point of being organized anyway.  My solutions are removable, rather than fixed such as pull out drawers and such, since we aren't putting any more money into this home while we live here... you may remember me mentioning that we hope to move and downsize into a condo in a few years. There are many solutions and many right answers when it comes to organizing, especially in a kitchen, and I'm happy to share what works well in mine. 

This will be a long post so bear with me.  I have many words.  (wink)  You'll may notice that we installed an open shelf for our daily dishes.  It's above the dishwasher which is handy while emptying.  Logical placement is everything in a kitchen. I'll explain.  By now, you're probably fairly familiar with our open concept kitchen and dining.  We have an island, but not a lot of drawers in all.  There is a bank of rather small drawers next to our dishwasher, and the dining table is next to that essentially.  In the drawers we keep dining items such as utensils but we also keep dishtowels and dishcloths because they are the logical drawer nearest to the sink, where it makes sense for them to be.


On  one side of the oven, we have a spice drawer and on the other side is a drawer with trivet boards and pot holders, because that's the most logical place for them, where they need to be used.  In the cupboards beside the oven we have pots and pans.  (We keep minimal pots and pans.  3 sizes of nesting frying pans, a good soup pot in pretty turquoise, two sauce pans and a stock pot. That's all we seem to need. Under our oven, in the drawer, we keep a roasting pan that we use once a year on Thanksgiving as well as lids to all the pots.)
On the other side of the oven in a narrow cupboard, I slide long pans, cookie sheets, cooling racks and cutting boards into a rack that I purchased at Ikea.  It's great because it expands to fit.  I keep two cookie sheets, two dishwasher safe cutting boards and two cooling racks. 

Two is plenty for most things you need multiples of, and someday I won't even need that many probably!  It is really easy to think more are better, but often those extras aren't in use nearly as often as we think, or perhaps we used more in a different season.  I know I used more when my kids were small and I was home to bake and cook, than I do now that they are older.  I simply don't use as many items anymore... Keeping extras that aren't used, often just take up space and cause that unorganized claustrophobic feeling.  Paring down items to just what is used or needed is half the battle in organizing.  (Again, see my very first post in this series, here.

 Logically, drinking glasses should be next to a sink.  Mine are directly to the left.  I keep a large variety but minimal amounts at the same time if that makes sense.  I keep ten goblets for special occasions on the top shelf. (This shelf is one that tucks back behind, as an impractical corner space but it works for seldom used items like goblets.) I keep just two copper mugs, and four copper dipped champagne flutes.  I have a set of six whisky tumblers, and two to-go coffee cups.  We don't need more than that, as we wash them and reuse them.  I keep a set of eight wine glasses and four champagne flutes.  Drinking glasses are in process, as my children hate this size and I haven't decided what to do quite yet. (The dishwasher is full of the rest of these sets by the way.)  I like to label the shelves and keep things tidy.
 We have a tea drawer, that functions really well, with acrylic trays housing tea varieties, rather than clunky boxes, half full and taking up space.  I  know you know what I'm talking about!  This organizing system is nice, as you can decant your tea bags into these trays, and see what you're running low on. It's also rather pretty and nobody complains about that.
 I purchase these acrylic trays in all sizes at my grocery store as needed, but you can find them on Amazon as well.
 This is a peek into the cupboard next to my oven/microwave and it functions well because everything is on a lazy susan or contained.  I often use clear mason jars for odd ingredients that come from the store in messy bags, and I like to use small, clear containers that are labeled to house randomly used items like cookie decorating tools.  (I don't bake a ton anymore, and keep my actual baking supplies such as sugar and flour in the pantry.)  This works well for smaller ingredients and the logical placement is in this corner beside the oven/stovetop, above the kitchen aid mixer and over the spice drawer.  It's so handy to have everything near each other when I'm whipping something up and I love the lazy susans!

Now we've moved to my kitchen island and what works well for organizing here.  I love this knife organizer. (Most of my knives were in the dishwasher.)  It keeps them neatly at hand.  I toss small kitchen accessories and tools into dividing baskets and that works well for me.  I keep a minimal amount of accessories because I don't like drawers overflowing with items- that makes it impossible to quickly find something as you're cooking.  I like to be efficient in the kitchen so I keep only what I use.  It makes the most sense for them to be here, across from the stove, but also under the largest work surface, the island countertop.  Of the two drawers in this island, it's also the one closest to the sink and dishwasher.

Is this logical placement thing beginning to make sense as we go?  (Don't forget the actual organizing method I shared in this post, as this is essential to this job.)

**When I was working for the organizing company, my friends and I would go in to organize someone's kitchen and we would stand there with a pile of sticky notes and sharpies.  We'd talk about what should logically go into this drawer or that cupboard, and then we would jot that item down on the sticky note and place it on the outside of all the drawer and cupboard faces.  We would mentally organize the whole kitchen in it's most logical way, before ever moving things from drawers. That was really helpful as we began shuffling things around where they should go.  That system could easily help you as well if you're trying to redefine logical placement in your spaces.
Organizational notes about this cupboard that I love:

*The rack I use for my glassware (lids are tucked beside it).
*The tray I keep my toaster on, to prevent crumb overload. (Never underestimate the power of a tray for anything in the home.)
*The way everything has a space... loaf pans tuck behind glassware as they are seldom used, and cake pans of all varieties stack neatly in the back.  You can't see it but the colander I keep (only one) is the perfect size for my salad spinner to nest in it when not in use.
You've seen this drawer before, but it's the second drawer in my island so I'm including it here again. This drawer makes me all kinds of happy... the little serving bowls for snacks, the striped straws, party picks, labels and whip cream canister refills.... it's a party waiting to happen right here! Again, I'm using those acrylic trays to keep it all tidy and contained.
This cupboard isn't filled with fun items, but it works well.  By now this won't surprise you, but I keep one, nice, set of matching mixing bowls.  Only one.  I have no need for more than that.  When I cook or bake, I clean as I go, so if I need to wash and reuse a bowl, it's not problem.  (I have a serving bowl set behind them that quite honestly I'm not certain I'll keep, as I seldom pull it out for use.)  I keep a couple of small appliances below, as well as Tupperware containers (of which many are in my dishwasher at the moment as well.)

Side note... is Tupperware the worst thing in the world to organize? This is the best solution I've found for my home and household... lids in a separate clear bin and the containers nested in a larger container with it's large lid underneath.  Just do your best on this.  Eliminate as much as possible, every container with no lid, toss! 

I also don't own a lot of small appliances which I think is half the battle sometimes.  I'm not much of a gadget person so I make what I have work.  I've got an amazing blender and I love my mini food processor.  Between those two, I can pretty much do any job that needs doing!
 One thing I love in organizing, is repurposing containers, baskets or bowls.  For my wraps, I needed something large and long enough to hold them all, and just happened to have this perfectly sized long basket that I wasn't using.  I tried it, and sure enough, it was just the thing.  We tuck lunch bags beside the other bags and wraps and it slides out neatly for us to grab what we need.  Oh and I forgot to mention that this placement is directly across from the refrigerator.  Leftovers are placed on the island, and contained in Tupperware or wrapped up and refrigerated, neatly and logically where they all make sense to be. (See what I'm saying about organizing with logical placement in mind?)
 I haven't shared every single drawer and cupboard but I'm sure you're getting the idea.  Those tricky to get to cupboards are a great place to store things you don't use daily.  For example, above my fridge, I keep things we use for parties and entertaining, such as beverage servers, carafes and platters.


A few random kitchen things as I close...  I didn't enjoy the black color of my kitchen aid mixer, so we painted it white. I won't tell you it was easy... it was quite a process but we found many helpful youtube videos sharing how to take it apart, tape it off, and prep.  I am so happy with the white color and it's  been holding up really well so I'm pleased so if you've got something in your space that isn't quite right, there may be simple fixes for it, such as paint! (We painted our entire kitchen way back when.)  Also, I'll be sharing the under sink organization soon, as well as the pantry.  We're just taking it one space at a time at this point.  If you have questions, as always, let me know and we'll tackle them.  

XOXO,
Sasha 













Friday, February 9, 2018

How to organize a master closet {spring cleaning series}

Welcome back to this organizing, spring cleaning series! I feel a bit giddy about today's post on organizing clothing.  If you haven't read the kick off post, "How to organize anything," you'll want to flip backward and read that {here} first. That post is key, as it highlights the tools and steps needed to organize any space, room or mess. Use that method with your clothing and you'll be organized in no time. (I will refer back to that process as previously detailed, in all the posts still to come in this series.)



I have gotten the privilege of organizing quite a few really lovely closets for people in the past, and loved the variety of ways a closet can be organized and made beautiful.  Closets were always a favorite, rewarding organizing job of mine.  However... my own is my favorite because of a book I read that though dramatic sounding, truly and honestly, changed my life, thus I must start here first.  The book as many of you already know is Lessons from Madame Chic 20 Stylish Secrets I learned While Living in Paris, by Jennifer L. Scott.  {You can grab a copy here.} The reason this book changed my life, is that it helped me find myself... all the excess clutter of clothing in my closet was keeping me from identifying my own personal style.  As a woman in my early forties, I was being smothered by new trends, clothes I had purchased on sale because they were "in style" though perhaps not my style and feeling like I didn't want to look like my daughter and everyone else out there... but who did I want to look like anyway? 

I began editing my wardrobe following the tips in her book, and I realized how complicated I had made a lot of my life by either not thinking things through fully before purchasing them, (no master wardrobe plans) or not being brutally honest about how I felt about all things that were wardrobe related.  Jennifer talks about the ten-item wardrobe and through the course of nearly two years I've actually gotten myself there.  It took time and seasons, but I can say that I NOW love everything in my closet, I feel good wearing each item, everything fits well, and is the best quality that I can afford.  (All things that Jennifer talks about in her book.)  Getting dressed in the morning is not a chore, it's a delight because I have very little to decide on. I still probably have a few more than ten core items but not many more, depending on the season.  (Core items are things like dresses, pants, sweaters and blouses... and the extras are the items you swap out again and again to change the core look of your outfits, such as basics (white or black tees), cardigan sweaters, scarves and such.) 

Once I had spent the time cultivating a wardrobe that I felt good about, organizing it was a snap.  Again, you may not have the same story as I do, or even a desire for less, but I was once a "more is better" and "you can't have too many shoes," kind of girl, so if I can change and LOVE it...who knows, right?  (I plan to share my spring wardrobe items once this series wraps up too by the way, for those who have asked me!)

In our master bedroom, we keep a nice, large dresser from Ikea.  My husband keeps half filled with his clothing and I've got the other half.  I love this functional piece! (It's from the Hemnes line at Ikea.) I keep fresh flowers and candles on top as often as possible, as this adds the pretty to the practical.  Bedrooms should have lots of pretty! 

 I like to open my drawers and have things tidy and pretty.  It's like the feeling you get when you walk into a store and things are folded nicely.  I like to treat myself by taking the time to do that small nice thing for myself. 

(And actually, that's a great way to view ALL of home organization! Treat yoself!) 

 I love using these white bins in my drawers.  Perfect for keeping items separated. 


In our closet, we have a cubby system (also from Ikea) that works so well for us as we enjoy folding items and placing them on a shelf for ease.  It's a also a lovely way to organize handbags, jewelry and scarves. I'm going to now share photos of our closet, and please bear with me and the horrible lighting.  (It is truly the worst in this small space but you get the general idea.)  You may notice that I also keep a few sweet favorite treasures in here to enjoy, such as the framed silhouettes of my babies and pretty bowls for holding bracelets, etc. 

 I like to keep coats and jackets together, dresses together and blouses together. Keeping like items beside each other is really helpful in closet organization.  I tend to enjoy putting like colors together as well, but that's a person preference.  I fold  and stack all of my pants, sweaters and scarves.  

I have two out of season baskets on the shelf in my closet.  In them, I keep the rotating ten-item wardrobe, core items for seasons I'm not currently in.  This could change depending on where you life, climate-wise, obviously.  I like having chalk labels on the outsides, so that I can quickly wipe off the old season and change it as needed. 

 This is one of my favorite economical ideas for shoe organization.  We used glass blocks and pre-cut shelf planks from Home Depot.  Very adaptable to the number of shoes you own, simple and clean.  And speaking of shoes... remember that I told you about my new love for Rothy's in this post on travelling preparedness?  If you use the following code at checkout, you can get yourself $20 off!  http://rothys.refr.cc/sashab

Ways to take a closet from "good" to "wow!" 
* Sentimental items in frames or on walls
* Hooks for robes to hang on
* Hanging jewelry displays (Love this hanging one from Amazon
* Stuffing purses with paper to help them keep their shape
* Showcasing jewelry in decorative bowls 
* Showing off pretty perfume bottles on chic trays
* Folding items the same way every time
* Arranging clothing, scarves, shoes and sweaters by color, from darkest to lightest
* Keeping like items together
* Removing out of season clothing for less closet clutter


Things not to stress about in clothing storage: 
 My sweet boss used to tell us that any clothing that wasn't seen on the outside (think camisoles, socks, etc) essentially gets a free pass when it comes to careful folding.  Just place them into shallow bins inside the drawers to keep them separate and easily accessible.  Don't you love that?!  

Okay dear ones, I'm wrapping this up and preparing for a sweet weekend ahead.  If you've been left with a puzzle in your own closet or have any questions, please feel free to reach out in comments (hopefully that comment issue has been resolved) and I will respond next week!  
XOXO, 
Sasha 



Monday, February 5, 2018

How to organize junk drawers {spring cleaning series}

Welcome back to this organizing, spring cleaning series!  If you haven't read the kick off post, "How to organize anything," you'll want to flip backward and read that {here} first. That post is key, as it highlights the tools and steps needed to organize any space, room or mess. I will refer back to that process as previously detailed, in all the posts still to come in this series. Before I get started sharing today, I wanted to chat briefly about my home and what works for me so you can get a clearer picture of what I'm sharing overall.  I live in a 1500 sq foot 3 bed, 2 bath home with a husband and two teenagers. We may soon have an additional teenager living with us as well.  We purchased this home new, fifteen years ago, and have spent many of those years transforming all of the builder-grade materials and finishes, into more customized choices that we love. However, many things, such as existing rooms, cupboards, and closet spaces are simply not worth it financially for us to renovate as we hope to move in just a few years, and downsize into a condo.  I work within the spaces that I have, and I find that to be very real life for many..  I worked for a professional organizer for three delightful years and learned new skills as well as got the chance to use the ones I am naturally wired with, to help others.  I have worked in so many varied spaces, from grand homes to tiny apartments.  (All types of budgets too.)  My personal budget is typically tight, so I try to use what I've got to the best of my ability and I hope this series encourages you to do likewise. 
Today is the day you start to get your home organized.   

Using the process that I shared in my series kick off post, we'll jump into a little tour of my family utility drawers. Today I'm showing you how I keep mine tidy, useful and current. Something I'd like to make mention of, is that I typically edit and update drawers and spaces in my home once or twice a year, tossing out the random junk that accumulates over time. Homes are a little like relationships, they require love, care and maintenance! This is crucial in a junk/utility area as random items accumulate there throughout the year.   I'm a firm believer that every family needs a junk or utility area for general housekeeping but it can really become a catchall for JUNK if not sorted regularly.  Most things that accumulate don't need to be kept... things like random screws and parts to projects that were leftover can all be tossed out!

It's a good idea to have a designated place for tools, household items, lightbulbs, extension cords and such, and in our home we use a couple of the drawers in our laundry room cupboard (above) for this purpose. (Please excuse the horrible lighting in these photos- there is zero natural light, but this room functions as the entry from our garage, storage for cleaning supplies and tools, ironing board and iron, out of season coats, first aid, shoe shine items, sport event items, coats and shoes, and laundry supplies, just to name a few!!  I'll share more on this high function, small space soon!) (Though this may be the only blog post I'm able to get out this week.)

I like to keep our tools handy, in a grab and go caddy. (here is a good one from Amazon) I keep these tools in one drawer, with a stack of moving tiles (for easy furniture moving) behind them. 

I really appreciate the small, moveable storage compartments in a plastic tackle box, such as this one.  (above) They are perfect for containing small items, such as batteries, night lights, wall hangers, etc. (I didn't snap a photos of it, but I like to keep all of the little nails, tacks and hanging screws in one of the small plastic snap containers that mixtures of hanging items often come in.  They have perfect compartments for those tiny pieces, and you can grab the whole thing and toss it into the tool tote next time you've got a project.) I keep all of this in another drawer, alongside a hot glue gun and an industrial staple gun.


Sorting and organizing a junk drawer can take mere minutes to complete, as plenty can generally be sorted very quickly, and tossed out, which is why I thought we would begin here.  Start small, and build on that accomplishment. I would like to close with one last thought and I think it's kind of importantOver-doing is the enemy of organization.  Here's what I mean by this. Overthinking, overbuying and over-organizing is possible.  Simplicity is a great word to keep in mind during this process, as you can spend a ton on "advertised organizing" items that won't actually work for you practically. Or you might be able to afford two of an item, but then you're stuck with a half way job that doesn't look good.  Find products that you can afford, get enough for your whole job, and finish the job.  You can also spend a ton of time on details that could be dealt with quickly and get your self bogged down. Sometimes it's difficult to know when you're over doing it, especially if you're just beginning to get organized... be wary of some of the Pinterest photos out there... a lot of them are just too much, not practical at all, and won't work in real life! Always keep in mind your stage of life, if you can keep a system up (before you purchase and/or implement it) and if you can afford it. Ask yourself how it will flow for your whole family, and if it will prove too difficult to use. (Example- shoe organization... there are a million different types and most don't work well in a realistic type of world. Why? Because kids are kids and have you ever known one to bend down and pick up shoes and put them in a proper place without being constantly asked, daily?  Well there you go. Make that organization too complicated and the only thing you're guaranteed to get... is frustrated and cranky, picking up those dang shoes each night.) (Just saying.)

Those thoughts will help guide you and keep your project on track.

As always, let me know if you're left with any questions.  (I've heard from many of you, that you're having trouble leaving comments- and I promise I haven't blocked any of you... I'm so sorry you're having issues.  I didn't change anything on my end, but I've tweaked some of the comment settings and fingers crossed that these issues go away now!)  And if you have any home spaces or projects stumping you, that you'd like to see me tackle or give feedback on. please feel free to make mention of them in comments. 
XOXO,
Sasha 




Thursday, February 1, 2018

How to organize anything. {spring cleaning series}

Not long ago, I asked a broad question about what y'all would enjoy hearing me post about in the coming year, and the overwhelming responses all pointed to organizing.  (Incidentally, this is how I know you're my people.) I don't know if that's because it's nearly spring, or because we all feel lighter and better prepared for life when we declutter.  Either way, it seems to be a win and I'm prepared to work this series to death, sharing as many spaces in my home as you want to see!  At present, I've had specific requests for help in the pantry, junk drawer type spaces, laundry rooms, closets (this was a huge request) and home offices.  I plan to take each space one at a time, over about the next ten posts, and I'll be (welcoming and) answering all of your questions as we go.  I've blogged about this topic in the past but since I'm still getting asked about it constantly, we will just start fresh.  Besides, my kids are older and some things have changed around here. And also because I could chat about this topic for days on end and still have things to say or share.  It's a fave!

Today is an overview but because this is the start of a series, I'm going to give you the tools you need to organize any thing in your life and everything we cover will refer backward, to this post and process.  Yes, I said ANY thing. Any space, any drawer, any mess.  It's much simpler than you might think but it doesn't come without effort, both physically and sometimes emotionally with stuff attachment. It's also just a tad obvious when you get right down to it-  Too much stuff in your life takes too much time to constantly deal with, so getting rid of more unwanted, unused, or un-needed stuff, frees up more time in your life to enjoy doing fun things.  Duh. (I know, I know. Easier said than done in a life where most of our belongings own us to some extent, not the other way around.) However, if you make it a goal to get rid of EVERYTHING that you don't use regularly, love, need... or what your descendants won't use, love or need, you'll be managing a lot less I bet. And scratch "I might use it someday" out of your mind.  If you haven't used it in a least five years, (or even less) you don't need it.  You probably don't even love it and you are obviously not using it regularly.  Toss that into the donate bin and walk away.

Organizing Tools:
Time- even small chunks can make an impact
Donation box
Garbage bag
(*consignment box- optional)
A good sized sorting bin, such as a plastic dishpan
Clear bins with lids, of many sizes from shoebox to large for storage you can see through
Drawer organizers (I love and use small acrylic trays whenever I can)
Drawer liners (I like rubbery non-skid liners, that come in a roll, shown below)
Labeler (For labelling bins, shelves, or items once job is complete, shown below)
Scissors (use to break down boxes, cut labels apart, cutting drawer liners etc.)
Cleaning cloth or wipes
Sharpie (Use to write on Post it notes, below)
Post it notes (these are useful for temporary labelling of piles of like items as you work so that you don't get confused about what is going where and labelling spaces as you work)



How to Organize anything: (with all the above tools on hand)
Spread out your labelled donation box and garbage bags so they are near you.  Gather all of your above organizing items so they are easily grabbed for use during this project. I often keep all of mine in a small tote and make a pile of the drawer organizers or dividers I'll be using for that particular project. Starting with a small space, such as a drawer, is the best way to ease into it and what I'll use as the example.  Don't get overwhelmed by the entire room or job, just begin in one place and finish that before moving on to anything else.  Distraction is your biggest enemy so focus hard until that one task is fully finished. (Steps below.)

Take everything out of the drawer, usually by tossing it upside down, into a sorting bin.  Set empty drawer aside. Begin to sort the items, tossing obvious trash as you go and placing like items with like items into piles, as you remove them.  (Example, when working on a bathroom drawer, like items might be something such as dental hygiene items, so those would go together into a pile.)  Once the piles are sorted, the trash is tossed and anything that doesn't belong has been removed, wipe the drawer clean, line with whatever liner you prefer, and then decide how items will be placed back into drawer.  For example, do you need small acrylic trays to contain items?  I love those, and I place them inside the drawer however they fit. Once you have a plan, place the like item piles back into drawer, sorted neatly and separated by dividers or trays.  Sometimes this process takes some shifting and arranging to get each group to fit and that's okay.  It's a process.

** You will probably have a few displaced items that need to be put elsewhere in your home or space, so now is a great time to find the proper homes for those items. Finishing each task completely helps you not become overwhelmed.  Keep in mind that organizing can often have a bit of a snowball effect.  Displacing items, creates more need for organizing other places.  This is why it is important to start small and finish that small task before taking on another.  Don't quit on yourself and don't get overwhelmed.  One bite at a time, ate the Elephant. (wink) 

(These above steps apply to each and every organizing job, big or small, whether it is a room or a drawer. Below, I'm sharing an example of this technique with a very simple before and after that took me about fifteen minutes from start to finish, including scrubbing the very dirty cupboard floor out and cutting the new liner to fit... we don't have nice bathroom cupboards (please excuse the inside doors that still need a fresh coat of paint).  They are small and very real life, builder grade, not my choice cabs.  But they are what we've got to work with and if we needed more storage in these, I would have added a few extra items, such as inside hanging door baskets, or a shelf doubler.  I just wanted to show a very practical way to organize, using dollar bins from my grocery store, elbow grease to clean it, and a simple drawer liner that makes a nice looking, yet also practical impact.)



Notes on organizing. 
*Work quickly, trusting first instincts as you sort.  Keep, donate or toss and don't overthink. If you are holding something in your hand for more than a quick second decision, set it aside and come back to it after a bit.  The sorting process gets easier as you get yourself going.
*Don't feel like you have to keep everything, the process works best if you don't!
*Don't allow yourself to pull things back out of donation bins and trash.
*Get trash out of the house immediately and load donation boxes into your trunk for drop off asap.
*Remove the stickers and price tags on dividers and bins, and place labels on them instead.  Try to affix the labels near the same spot on each bin or divider tray, for a cohesive look because functional can also be attractive. (Also, I tend to prefer any kind of clear bin for storage.  The reason, it is so practical, as you always see right what's in it, and I tend to buy the same kinds of bins again and again, for universal organizing cohesion.)
*Remember that you can't take it with you, and nobody probably wants to deal with it when you die.

I feel like I should repeat that last one... Ha! These posts will all work together somewhat, but when it comes to organizing an entire home, what tends to be overwhelming in a household, are having more than one designated space for things ("Has anyone seen the.... " as they slam drawer after drawer open and closed), having multiples of things because they aren't always kept in the same place, and not having a realistic system that works easily enough for everyone to follow. That is often where bins and labels come in handy.  In my home, everyone knows where to look for the screwdriver because it's always in the exact same place.  If someone leaves it out, someone else knows where to put it for the next time it's needed.  (Sometimes people in our homes need some "encouraging retraining" so they know where exactly the cleaning supplies get put back.  Or the band aids, etc.  When people in the home get more and more on board with keeping things tidy and in place, they often begin contributing to the process. If you can train your people to take shoes off or put a plate in a dishwasher, you can train them to put things into a labelled bin.)

Enjoy this process... it feels like losing weight.  It just feels so good and when you open a neatly organized drawer, lined and tidy with labelled dividing trays, you feel like you actually accomplished something that will make that tiny space in your life better.  And guess what... you did.  Let me know all your questions and I promise to answer as we go!
XOXO,
Sasha